Kevin Velasquez, attorney at Blethen, Gage and Krause, recently provided a guest column to Greater Mankato Growth regarding a new ADA law regarding a new mandatory notice requirement.
In 2015, the number of lawsuits in state and federal courts in Minnesota asserting accessibility violations in public accommodations began to spike. In 2014, there were 19 cases brought in federal court (including Minnesota Human Rights Act claims). In 2015, the number of federal claims increased to 118, with many more claims commenced in state court. The lawsuits generally sought a judicial order requiring removal of an architectural barrier to access, such as the addition of an access aisle in a parking lot, or that a service counter be lowered to an accessible height, as well as the plaintiff’s attorney’s fees.
In 2016, the legislature changed the Minnesota Human Rights Act by creating a short, clear form letter that a person could fill out and provide to a business to notify it of an accessibility barrier. The goal was to make it easy for a person to make a business aware of the existence of the barrier and encourage its prompt removal without the need for a lawsuit. In order to advance this goal, under the 2016 amendment, if a person utilized the written notice, they could not commence a lawsuit for an MHRA violation until after the expiration of 30 days. The notice was voluntary, however, and if a person chose to forego the notice, he or she could begin a lawsuit immediately, with no notice.
The voluntary notice provision in the 2016 amendment did not have the desired effect, and lawsuits have continued at the 2015 pace.
For more information regarding how this law may impact you, contact Kevin Velasquez at 507-345-1166 or firstname.lastname@example.org.